After Swearing Off the 200, Pellegrini to Race it in Genoa and Turin

The Italian National Olympic Committee has tweeted that Federica Pellegrini plans to swim the 200 free at Energy for Swim 2018 in Turin on December 20-21, 2018. Sources say that Pellegrini is also planning to swim the 200 free at the 44th Trofeo Nico Sapio in Genoa in November, as well.

Pellegrini, the current World Record-holder in the LCM 200 free, had previously announced she would no longer swim the distance in international competition. That announcement came in the summer of 2017 just after she upset Katie Ledecky to win the World Championship title in Budapest.

Pellegrini has been a consistent force in the 200 free for more than a decade. She has medaled in the event at a record-setting 7 consecutive World Championships from 2005 to 2017, including golds in 2009, 2011 and 2017. She first set the World Record in the LCM 200 free with 1:56.47 at 2007 World Championship in Melbourne. The next day France’s Laure Manaudou lowered the world mark to 1:55.52. Pellegrini took back the record in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, going 1:55.45, then 1:54.82. In 2009 she lowered her own WR three times, finally swimming 1:52.98 at World Championships in Rome. Her record still stands today.

Recently, Pellegrini expressed interest in continuing to swim through the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. As reported by SwimSwam’s Karl Ortegon, using analysis of Pellegrini’s interview provided by SwimSwam Italy’s Giusy Cisale, Pellegrini answered a question about a potential Ledecky 200-1500 double in Tokyo by saying, “Yes, but the final of the 200 comes first… and in any case I do not think only of her, but of all the young people who sprout, the others are the real danger.”

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Nobody never said that winning Olympic medal in 200 free will be walk-in-the park. Eleven(!!) of currently active swimmers have personal best under 1:55. Not all of them are swimming next to their personal bests, but still – eleven swimmers. 1:54 area became as defensively populated as 52 zone in 100 free race.

Honest Observer

She’s right about “the young people who sprout.” Who knows how fast Ruck, Titmus, Ikee, et al will be by the summer of 2020. That said, what else would Pellegrini swim? She’s not quite world class in any other event. And even though she wouldn’t be a favorite for a Tokyo medal on anyone’s form charts at the moment, she’s tough, she’s wily, she’s a great strategist, she always seems to rise to the occasion, and she IS still the world record holder. And really, how many of us expected her to win in 2017?


That Federica Pellegrini has swum under 1:55 wasn’t surprise to anybody. Her best time previous season was 1:54.55. With the absence of Sjostrom she with Ledecky and McKeon were considered major contenders for the place on the podium. That Ledecky wouldn’t be able to complete the race with the pretty ordinary for her pace at first 150m expected practically nobody.

Jim C

She could swim the 400 free. She is a former world record holder in that event. If she focused on that event she could probably be world class by 2020.

tea rex

Pellegrini got her 100 free down to 53.1 by 2016. She went 1:00.0 in the 100 bk in April, and has been 2:08 in 200 back. Plus, of course, her old 3:59.1. It would be interesting to see how low she could get any of those times with pure focus on that discipline (I’m thinking of Cseh giving up the IMs for mostly fly).

But when it comes down to it, Pellegrini’s sweet spot is always going to be the 200 free. It’s hard to pursue other events knowing you could still (probably) do better in your prime event.

Jim C

What does Pellegrini mean when she says the others are the real danger? I would imagine Ledecky would interpret would this as Federica saying that while Federica will not too old to be a factor at 30, Katie at 23 will be too old to be a factor. I do not think that Pellegrini should be so quick to dismiss Ledecky as being too old to be a factor.


It’s so amazing. Ikee, Ruck, Titmus, Oleksiak etc. – all these girls are referred in swimswam articles as teens. And they ARE in accordance with their birth certificates. But Katie Ledecky being treated like a veteran is just three years older. They all belong to same generation. ‘Younger/older’ terminology isn’t applicable to this group. The illusion happens because Katie has been in leading position for 6 years already. That is usually associated with swimmers who are close to their retirement age. Pellegrini and let’s say Tuggle represent different generations that won’t be a factor in 2020: one(generation) will be already out and another one won’t be yet in ruling group at 200.

tea rex

In 2010, nobody was picking Ledecky or Meilutyte to win in 2012. In 2014, nobody was picking Oleksiak or DiRado to win in 2016. I think that’s all she meant.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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